Two years ago, Kentavius “KJ” Morgan lost his best friend, his biggest supporter and encourager: his mother. Teresa Colbert passed away on Mother’s Day 2019 after battling cancer, and it caused KJ to re-evaluate his priorities.
“My mom was my best friend,” the young man told Fox News. “She was the only thing I had. So when she just passed away like that, it left me hurt.”
He doubled down on his education, and after years of hard work, he celebrated in a very special way that incorporated his mother.
The student at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia, focused hard on his studies — completing his high school requirements in record time, but also participating in Central Georgia Technical College’s dual enrollment program while also holding down a job as a hair braider part-time.
In July, KJ graduated a whole year early at 17 years old and already has 26 college credits under his belt. He not only completed high school early; he’ll start college as a sophomore.
“I would like to take the time to congratulate my oldest son Kj Morgan for graduating a year early,” his proud father posted on Facebook.
“It’s amazing how far this young man have come especially to be 17. Son I hope you use this time wisely and stay on your journey to greatness. I am so proud of u even though I am hard on u but just know that it’s all with good intentions.”
“May 12,2019 at 10am I seen my mom take her last breath,” KJ posted on July 29. “She was my bestfriend. My hype man. My partner and crime. My everything. We always talked about how she was gonna be screaming and I was gonna be crying at graduation .. here I am … walking the stage ….without my bestfriend. I’m doing this for you ma.
“I accomplished many things this year but graduating a year early with working was my biggest flex.”
When the time came to recognize his impressive academic achievements this year, the thought of walking across the stage and accepting his diploma had lost its appeal. The act would ring hollow, as the person he most looked forward to cheering him on was no longer able to do so.
“I didn’t want to have a graduation ceremony,” KJ said. “I didn’t want to walk at all because that was going to eat me up on the inside — being on that stage.”
So instead of being front and center on stage, he put his mother front and center in an emotional photo shoot. He ordered a custom stole decked out with photos of his mom and posed with a large photo of her holding him as a baby.
The alternative graduation celebration has warmed many hearts and made it clear that this mother and son had an incredible bond.
Facing the future, KJ has a whole range of opportunities. He’s been accepted at the three colleges he was interested in but has decided to take a gap semester first. He has a variety of interests and passions that will direct his path.
“There’s just so many things that could work,” he said. “I want to be everything.”
He also wants people to know that even the most crippling loss can be turned for good.
“There’s more to life than just a person,” he said. “You still have to get things done.
“Parent-wise, I feel like all of us can relate to some kind of hurt. And I just want people to realize that when you go through that hurt, you don’t have to use that as an excuse to be down. You can use that as motivation.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.